Monday, April 18, 2005

Back in the Saddle Again

I've decided to hit the blogging again two days before we return to our little abode at Clifford Rd, Bearwood, Smethwick, B67 5HJ, UK. We've had a great time visiting with family and friends all over Tennessee and Alabama. I'll do a quick roundup and then offer some of my faux wisdom.

We've been to Moulton on three seperate occasions. Once for a simple overnight family visit, another for the First Annual Chicken and Egg Festival (I hear they had over 10,000 people!) and worship time with my home congregation, and once to finalize the income tax forms. Mary came apart from me this past weekend to attend a friend's graduation ceremony. Yeah Beka!

I've been to Murfreesboro, our future place of residence, quite a few times. Last Saturday the student center had its Annual Fund Raising Roast Beef Dinner. Around 250 were in attendance and we raised over $15,000 after paying expenses! It was great to see old friends from Winchester there. Mary, Helen and I were introduced again at the dinner, and then again on Sunday morning at our new church, the North Boulevard Church of Christ. I've never been part of such a huge church.... around 1500 people on Sunday mornings!!... and it will take some adjusting to get used to the fact that I'll probably never know every member there. Tonight we three will return to Murfreesboro for a cookout devo on campus designed to welcome us into town. People here are being really good to us. And, in all honesty, we've had similar experiences in Auburn, Winchester, and Moulton. I know lots of ministers who've had bad partings from their former churches... we're extremely thankful to God for the relationships he's given us over the past 8 years we've been in ministry.

We've been to church with Mary's folks on several occasions here in Columbia at the West 7th St Church. They are "in between" preachers so we've heard lessons from various members and visitors. BTW, they've hired a guy from Cullman, Alabama. Is it just me or are these Tennessee churches increasingly dependent on the Yellowhammer State for decent spiritual guidance?

What I've spent my time here doing: resting, reading, brushing up on Greek vocabulary, running, fishing, driving two-lane roads, playing with Helen, watching Napoleon Dynamite with Mary's dad and brother, and catching up on our two favorite TV shows which my dad so kindly Tivo'd for us, Alias and Lost. We're about halfway through March on the shows.

Now on to "ask your friendly know-it-all". I've got put in a blurb about gas... I mean petrol... prices here. The night we landed in Nashville I noticed that the typical price for a gallon of gas was $2.17 per gallon. When we went to Moulton two days later we filled up for $2.03 a gallon. Prices went up 6-10 cents over the next two weeks, but have since gone down to 4 cents in most places because of the sliding price of oil. FWIW, I remember filling up for 78 cents a gallon outside of Atlanta in my early college years (1994 I think). Rather than offer the typical moaning about the high prices, I'll offer three strains of thought on the subject.

1) When we left the UK, most gas was around 82 pence per liter. There are 3.8 liters in an American gallon, so that comes to 3 pounds 12 pence per Am. gallon. To compare prices, we can use the current exchange rate of around $1.90 per pound, which placed UK gas prices at $5.92 per gallon. However, exchange rates don't allows reflect purchasing power, so it might be lest to use $1.50 per pound, the average rate in the 1990's and early 2000's. That comes to $4.68 per gallon. We saw comparable prices in Italy, too. And for my British friends, to give you an idea of American gas prices, we pay roughly 29 pence per liter... ask your grandparents what it was like when they paid those prices.

2) As much as I hate to admit it, the best chance of the U.S. ever becoming less reliant on foreign oil markets (and fossil fuels altogether) is for the energy which we get from them to become so expensive that we seriously seek other fuel sources. The government can encourage this but cannot make us change our habits. Which leads to...

3) I have to admit that higher prices hasn't caused a noticeable change in the way we consume gas. Here's my list of ways to save at least 10% on your gas consumption right now:

  • slow down - I've been driving slower lately and can tell the difference... but I can't say that most drivers around me aren't still putting the pedal to the metal
  • turn the A/C down or off... you probably don't need it as much as a you think
  • buy a lower grade gas... with all respect to certain respected family members, I've never been able to tell a difference in gas mileage between the grades. And spare me the argument that the more expensive stuff is better for the car long-term... my 1991 Accord has 237k miles and has never sniffed anything about 87 grade
  • don't go into the gas station and buy anything... my average tank must cost less now than it did a year ago because I won't let myself go in and pay over $1 for a coke or some other overpriced bit of refreshment. Now I either take it with me or do without.
  • coast down the hills if you have a 5 speed
  • if you have a truck, let the tailgate down
  • next time, look up the gas mileage info on a car before you buy it... the Stricklands will do so before we ever make a car purchase again. FWIW, our 3 vehicles get an average of about 26 mpg. Accord gets 28, pickup 27, and Maxima 25. Ours are much uglier than the pictures!

You're probably getting used to me typing it, but I promise not to blog about this again!

And tune in later tomorrow for a blog on a special prank Mary and I are undertaking before we leave!!!


At 12:16 PM, Blogger Barclay said...

Glad to have you writing again. The anticipation of seeing Cooter with no new entries was waning.

---cool rfc website, but the church website needs to add your pic and bio or this whole thing is going to fall apart
---what happened to the preacher at west 7th?
---i'm proud to say that when i fill up our car with gas on thursday, it will be the first gasoline purchase that our family has made in five we can add walking and biking to the list of ways to save on gas. :-)

At 2:12 PM, Blogger Mark Goodacre said...

Another great tip for saving on petrol: drive your car in second gear at all times! (Sorry). I've enjoyed reading of your exploits and I seriously cannot believe that petrol in the USA is as little as 29p a litre. Wow.

At 6:51 AM, Blogger Mommy of Boys said...

Oh, how I've missed you!

Great to hear from you, even if it is about GAS!

You need to cater to your female audience more! (i.e. talk about the baby)


At 12:39 PM, Blogger whatusay said...

Haste makes waste my lovely. Please tell Blabatha to spit on my wrist and make a wish. Hut!


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